Ferrer Takes Giant Stride With Vienna Title
David Ferrer seals his 26th title and moves closer to booking his London berth
David Ferrer took a major step on Sunday towards qualifying for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 15-22 November. The Spaniard joined Kei Nishikori on 3,945 points for tied-No. 7 in the Emirates ATP Race To London after the top seed defeated first-time ATP World Tour titlist Steve Johnson 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 in Vienna for the Erste Bank Open trophy.
"It's been an unbelievable season, winning five titles and it's great to be playing well," said Ferrer. "I am in a good position for [the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in] London, but I have yet to qualify. Certainly, today I took a big step."
Ferrer, hoping to clinch one of the two remaining spots at the season finale for the seventh time in his career, has now captured 26 ATP World Tour titles and goes one better than his runner-up finish to Andy Murray in 2014. Ferrer is the first Spaniard to capture the Vienna title since Feliciano Lopez in 2004 (d. Canas in five sets). He heads into the final two weeks of the regular ATP World Tour season with an extra 500 Emirates ATP Rankings point and €423,000 in prize money.
"It was a very tough match and difficult to beat Steve, who has a good serve and played aggressively throughout the match," said Ferrer. "I waited for my opportunity and my experience counted. He also had his chance to win the tournament. Steve is playing very well, he's beaten a lot of good players this week."
Having saved one break point in his first service game, Johnson took a 3-0 lead to keep Ferrer - appearing in his 51st tour-level final - on the back foot. Although Ferrer recovered to 4-4, breaking Johnson in the eighth game, the American regained his composure to break Ferrer to 15 and clinch the 41-minute opener.
There were three breaks of serve at the start of the second set, before Ferrer worked his way back into the pair's first meeting. Ferrer could not convert one set point on Johnson's serve at 4-5, 30/40, but he clinched his fifth opportunity in the next game.
Neither baseliner was unduly troubled through the opening exchanges of the decider until the seventh game, when Johnson dropped to 0/40 on serve. Miraculously, he saved four break points in a 14-point game to lead 4-3. As the set wore on, a tie-break seemed to be the inevitable conclusion to a pulsating encounter. However, at 5-5, two rushed strokes by Johnson and a Ferrer volley winner gave the Spaniard three break point opportunities. A double fault handed Ferrer the decisive break and he went on to record his 52nd match win of 2015. The match lasted two hours and 14 minutes.
Johnson, who had come within two points of clinching the match at 5-4, on Ferrer's serve in the third set, dropped to a 33-27 match record on the season. He leaves Vienna with 300 points and €190,800.
"He just had a bit more experience," said Johnson, who will next play in Valencia. "I had some looks at 5-4 [in the third set], then at 5-5 he played a couple of incredible shots. I had an awesome week and am super-proud about how I played. I'm not going to be sad about this week and I look forward to the rest of the year. I have gained a lot of confidence and will work hard in the off season, because I know I can beat these guys."